Ultimate Guard – New Products for 2018

Back in 2016 Ultimate Guard were moving into Australia (and indeed across the world) with their range of premium gaming storage products.  With the world awash in rumours, the Australian gaming community was very curious to learn more about this new entrant into the scene and whether the products were as good as they heard they might be.

We approached Ultimate Guard directly in the hopes of answering that question and they were kind enough to send us a big box of their products to review.  So much in fact, it had to be broken into multiple articles.

Nearly two years have passed and the Ultimate Guard name has acquired a solid reputation for producing quality game storage products, particularly in the field of deck boxes and folders.  No matter which store I visit in my home town, I see Ultimate Guard products on every table. I personally use their XenoSkin deck boxes, the very same ones we received in early 2016, and both are still going strong today despite being thrown into a bag and lugged around almost every week.

Not ones to rest idly though, Ultimate Guard have been continually looking for new and inventive ways to bring new products to the market.  With that in mind they were kind enough to send us a box of their latest products, some of which have just hit Australian shelves and a few that are still on the way.

There was quite a bit through so I’ll break this down into small, more digestible sections.

The Big Storage

Arkhive 400+ :: Australian RRP – $50 (Good Games)
Superhive 550+ :: Australian RRP – $80 (Good Games)

There is a lot of hype in Australian markets for these products, in particular the Superhive which many Magic: The Gathering Commander and Cube players have been eyeing off.  Both have the patented and durable XenoSkin outer layer.  I’ve found XenoSkin to be pretty damned resilient and appreciate how durable it’s been over the last couple of years.  It wears better, it’s harder to mark or stain and is much easier to grip than the average deck box.  To be fair, I did have one side of my old deck box come loose, but I just popped a few dabs of superglue on it and she’s never skipped a beat since.  Ultimately, these things are rugged and can take a fair amount of abuse, all in the name of protecting your most precious.

The Arkhive

The Arkhive is designed to hold 175 Top-Loaders, 430 double-sleeved cards, 500 single-sleeved cards or 850 unsleeved cards.  Or if you prefer you can fit five 80 card decks boxes or four 100 card deck boxes in it.  It will even accommodate three of the 80 card flip deck boxes and a regular 80 card deck box.  Either way it has a lot of storage space in a very tidy and sturdy package.

Ideal For –
Porting multiple deck boxes in a sturdy, safe, stylish package.
MTG Cubes of 360 cards (Double-Sleeved) or 450 cards (Single-Sleeved).  Use two Arkhives if you’re using the unusually large 720 card cube size.

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The Superhive is the Arkhive’s big brother, also encased in the highly praised XenoSkin texture.  Originally I thought that this particular unit would be the perfect cube storage with one compartment for the cube and the other for lands.  However, the height of the Superhive won’t allow that and the smaller compartment which I had thought would hold lands is actually for a playmat.  It’s not the end of the world, but it means if you’re running a cube on the bigger end you’ll probably want an Arkhive as well to store the land.

The Superhive will hold 550 double-sleeved cards, 650 single-sleeved cards or 1100 unsleeved cards.  Much like the smaller Arkhive, it will also hold a combination of deck boxes.  Unlike the Arkhive which stores cards and boxes vertically, the Superhive stores these horizontally.

The second, smaller storage area is for playmats and there is a small drawer for dice, tokens and the like. This is the ultimate portable storage unit.  Regardless of your TCG, this box has got you covered and will make trips to your local games store all the easier.

Ideal For –
The complete storage package for the weekly trip to your LGS.
MTG Cubes of 540 cards (Double-Sleeved) or 630 cards (Single-Sleeved).

Premium Flip Deck Boxes

SideWinder 80+ XenoSkin :: Australian RRP $26 (Good Games)
SideWinder 80+ ChromiaSkin :: Australian RRP $30 (Good Games)
SideWinder 100+ ChromiaSkin :: Australian RRP $34 (Good Games)
Tarot 70+ XenoSkin :: Australian RRP $20 (Good Games)
French Tarot 80+ XenoSkin :: Australian RRP $20 (Good Games)

Back in 2016 we looked at a swathe of the earlier Ultimate Guard XenoSkin Deck Boxes.  These held 80 or 100 cards and came with a tray at the top for holding dice or the double jobbie which held two decks and  had the tray in the middle.  These are awesome and, as I said earlier, I see these everywhere I go.  They don’t fit in the Superhive or Arkhive though, nor do you need dice and tokens with every single deck.  I do like how the lids fold all the way back to leave the deck box itself free standing so you can easily get your hands on either side of the deck for easy removal.  Clever thinking.

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That’s where the SideWinder range comes in to play. It’s a 80 or 100 card storage solution with the robust Xenoskin outer later in a reduced size, removing the dice tray all together.  These sit really comfortably inside the larger storage boxes, or you can throw ’em in a back pack before making your way down to your local.   Like all the XenoSkin range it has that felt-like microfibre inner lining and magnet sealed lid.

What’s a nice addition is Ultimate Guard including a sheet of tissue paper and moisture absorbent thingy in the box during transport.  It’s a little thing but it doesn’t go unnoticed. Nice work.

I really dig my original XenoSkin Deck Boxes with trays but I’m loving this SideWinder alternative and the reduced bulk they offer without slipping into those nasty $4 plastic deck boxes.

Ideal for –
Storage of any and all regular and the smaller ‘Japanese Size’ cards.

Mixing things up from the regular XenoSkin range is the new SideWinder ChromiaSkin range of flip deck boxes.  Remember those T-Shirts back in the 90’s that would change colour when you put your hand on them? Same thing here.  These deck boxes have a default colour for 19 degrees Celsius or lower and a brighter colour when we start to push towards 26 degrees Celsius.  The interior and design of the deck box (beyond the outer skin) is identical to the regular SideWinder with the microfibre interior and magnet closed lid. Texture wise the ChromiaSkin is smooth to the touch and not quite as rugged feeling as the familiar XenoSkin.

The problem for me being in a Brisbane Summer when reviewing these deckboxes is that they arrived in one colour and pretty much stayed that way.  Never fear though, ingenuity prevailed and I simply stuck ’em in the fridge for a bit.

Simply the Best Yogurt.

It’s not the first time we’ve gone to extreme ends with Ultimate Guard products, all in the name of a thorough review.  Lin stuck his mini folio in the oven for a while before drowning it in the sink in an attempt so simulate harsh Australian conditions.

One thought that had never occurred to me with the ChromiaSkin deck boxes until I read the side of the box is ‘additional visual protection’.  Assuming the room is cool enough you’ll actually be able to see when someone has touched your deck boxes.

For those in warmer climates (90% of Australia) wanting to show off their fancy deck box, I found good results with a cold drink.

Ideal for –
Storage of any and all regular and the smaller ‘Japanese Size’ cards.  With a bit of extra flair.

Last but not least we have the slightly more niche Tarot XenoSkin and French Tarot XenoSkin flip deck boxes.  It’s embarrassing to say but I don’t have a hugely varied TCG or board game collection so I really had to scratch my head for a while to think of cards I might own to fit these.  Sadly I couldn’t find anything to demonstrate the French Tarot size in action but I’m sure by now you get the idea.  I did find that the character cards from my Mansion of Madness fit very nicely though in the regular Tarot XenoSkin.  The good news is that for those of you who do have cards of these sizes in need of secure storage, Ultimate Guard now has you covered.

Ideal For –
Appropriately sized Tarot or French Tarot sized cards. Neat!

Hard Cases

Boulder Deck Case 80+ :: Australian RRP $10 (Good Games)
Boulder Deck Case 100+ :: Australian RRP $12 (Good Games)

When we did the big round-up back in 2016, much like the original XenoSkin deck boxes we received a number of tough, hard plastic cases that also included a dice tray that clipped into the bottom.  I’ve sure seen plenty of these floating around and our own Harrison swears by them; they’re pretty much the only deck box he’ll buy and use.  Again, due to the larger storage options or the desire to not have every case with a dice tray, Ultimate Guard have released the Boulder Deck Case series.

The Boulder Deck Cases come in a variety of translucent colours and in either the 80 or 100 card sizes. To be clear, this means 80 or 100 double-sleeved cards.  This plastic case has a soft, satin like feel to it and also just a slight hint of rubber to it, probably to give it a little flex without shattering. Of the two, the 100 count felt a little more solid in hand, not that the 80 was flimsy in any way but I’d probably stick to the 100 count cases regardless of how many cards I’m putting in them.  Either way they both feel really nice in the hand.  They are symmetrical in shape and if you own multiple deck cases of the same size you can mix and match the tops and bottoms to go completely colour crazy.

Ideal for –
Storage of any and all regular and the smaller ‘Japanese Size’ cards.

Soft Cases

Mini Card Case 60+ :: Australian RRP$5 (Good Games)
Mini Card Case 60+ Mystic Space Edition :: Australian RRP$5 (Good Games)
Deck Case 80+ Mystic Space Edition :: Australian RRP$6 (Good Games)
Tarot Deck Case 70+ :: Australian RRP$6 (Good Games)
Fench Tarot Deck Case 80+ :: Australian RRP$6 (Good Games)

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Sometimes you need to store cards that aren’t particularly expensive, or perhaps you are simply on a tight budget.  Most of the time it’s a deck box to store the cards you received from that nights booster draft.  That’s where the cheaper soft plastic cases come into play.  While these have been around for a while, Ultimate Guard have now released them in new sizes and designs while keeping the pricing competitive and throwing a divider into them to boot.

The Mini Card Cases are something new, I believe, to the tabletop gaming world.  I know we’ve had an assortment of folders previously, especially for games like X-Wing, but it’s kind of neat to see deck boxes for them at last.  While those enjoying games of the star-faring nature are probably going to want to snap up the mystic space edition, I found that the black box was perfect for storing my Arkham Horror Card Game characters in.  Thanking you very much!

Ideal for –
American Mini Cards – X-Wing, Arkham Horror and the like.

The Mystic Space Edition of the regular 80+ card case does the job nicely for holding regular and ‘Japanese size’ decks.  It’s sturdy enough not to get crushed in a normal bag of ‘stuff’, comes with a divider and like the other deck boxes in the range, blank spots for you to scribble all over identifying what’s inside.  The design gives the case a little more flair without inflating the price.  Perhaps pick one up at the next booster draft?

Ideal for –
Storage of any and all regular and the smaller ‘Japanese Size’ cards.

Like the XenoSkin flip deck boxes I showed off earlier, Ultimate Guard have gone ahead and created a Tarot Deck Case and French Tarot Deck Case.  At only $6 AUD a pop I imagine these are mostly going to get used here in Australia for store board-game component.  Don’t get me wrong, the XenoSkin variant is nice, but at $20 it is completely unnecessary for storing inside a board game box. So I’m much more likely to store my Mansions of Madness characters in this deck box.  It’s also a little less bulkier in the XenoSkin and will take up less space inside the box.

As before, I sadly couldn’t find any games with French Tarot sized cards. I asked a few of my well-versed friends on Facebook if they knew of any games that did and it left them stumped as well (thanks for helping me out Dez).  As a result I’m not sure how popular these will be here in Australia.  If you know of a game that does use French Tarot size, let me know in the comments below.

Ideal For –
Appropriately sized Tarot or French Tarot sized cards.

Play Mats

Play-Mat XenoSkin Edition :: Australian Unknown. My guess $25-$30
Play-Mat SophioSkin Edition :: Australian Unknown. My guess $25-$30
Battle-Mat 3′ Starship Edition :: Australian RRP$65  (Good Games)

I’m guessing that the XenoSkin and SophiSkin Play-Mats are both really new as I couldn’t find any listing for them on the Good Games website.  When I first looked at them I was a little hesitant, nobody really likes change right?

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It was the XenoSkin Edition I was more apprehensive about to be honest.  I really dig XenoSkin as a protective layer on the outside of my deck boxes, folders and the like but a play-mat?  Well slap me silly and call me surprised!  While the mat itself grips the table surface really well, the top of the mat, the XenoSkin side is oddly satisfying.  Cards glide across the surface easily, whether sleeved or not, but never slippery.  I huffed and puffed at the cards on the mat and while the unsleeved cards did move about, the sleeved cards held tight, even when I pointed a pedestal fan at them. Much like the other XenoSkin product, I expect this play-mat to be very hardy, durable and resistant. It’s an odd texture that will take some time to get used to, but already I suspect I’ll be seeing plenty of these on tables at my local gaming store in the coming months.

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The SophioSkin Edition is a bit of an odd one.  Initially it looks and feels a bit like a smooth vinyl play-mat.  Much like the XenoSkin Edition, I think it’s going to take some getting used to and if your local gaming store is happy for you to take it out of the box and feel it before making the purchase I urge you to do so.  It too feels really durable and solid.  With a smoother texture than the XenoSkin, the SophiSkin is likely going to be easier to clean.  Spills, stains, general grime, pen, and the like are all going to be much easier to wipe clean than your conventional fabric play-mat.  There are some really classy colours in the range, especially the Dark Red which has an almost burgundy colour to it.  The SophioSkin just has a classy look to it which I can dig.

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The final product in this Ultimate Guard roundup is the Battle-Mat 3′ Starship Edition.  Legally Ultimate Guard can’t advertise this as ‘The Death Star Map’ but it’s totally ‘The Death Star Map’.  Those of you enjoying Fantasy Flight Games X-Wing miniature game are going to be very interested in this particular map, although to be fair you could use it for just about any space combat game.  I guess one interesting point between this map and the other ‘deep space’ maps is that there is a solid surface beneath the ships, meaning (if rules allow it) you could have ground troops or rules for crashing into the Death Star itself.  Apologies for not showing the entire battle-mat in the picture above, my table at the time wasn’t big enough, but  you get the idea.  The mat is 3 feet each side (or 91cm for you younglings), plenty big enough for the average space battle.  Unlike the smaller XenoSkin and SophioSkin play-mats, the Battle-Mat uses the more common fabric topping.  It also features square corners so if you do want to go 6′ by 3′ (or bigger) you can drop down extra mats and line them up. Neat. Ultimately though, this particular mat is for a very particular market, and if you play X-Wing you’ve probably already got one of these in your shopping basket already.

And that about wraps it up for this round of Ultimate Guard product reviews.  If you’ve made it this far, well done and thank you for reading.  Keep an eye on the ATGN website as we’ll be hosting a competition to give away the Superhive 550+ shown in this article.

A huge thank you to Ultimate Guard for sending us this big box of awesome products all the way from Germany.

Have you used these or other Ultimate Guard products? What are your thoughts?  Let us know in the comments below.

For more information regarding Ultimate Guard and their products take a look at their website and Facebook Page.

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  1. January 20, 2018 | Reply
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